Rick Grimes left “The Walking Dead” Sunday, and gave the show the parting gift of a little growth in Nielsen ratings.
In “Live + Same Day” data from Nielsen, the most recent installment of the AMC drama — which served as Andrew Lincoln’s exit from the long-running series — brought in 5.4 million total viewers, up 6 percent from last week’s episode. Episode 905 posted 2.7 million viewers among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic, also up 6 percent from last week.
Those numbers bring “The Walking Dead” to its highest mark in both total viewers and the key demo in L+SD data since the Season 9 premiere last month.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s “Talking Dead” — which featured an interview with Lincoln and guests Scott Gimple, Melissa McBride and Yvette Nicole Brown — saw a significant lift in both total viewers (2.7 million, up 48 percent from the previous week) and the key demo (1.3 million, up 66 percent) over last week’s episode, according to L+SD data.
While this is modest ratings growth for the drama — which has seen a steady decline in Nielsen numbers in recent years — Lincoln’s exit was up against NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” “TWD” competed with a showdown between the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers that ended up as the highest-rated NFL game of the season, with 23.7 million viewers and a 13.7 rating among adults 18-49.
“The Walking Dead”s goodbye to Rick (and Lincoln’s goodbye on “Talking Dead”) should see a decent lift when “Live + 3 Day” numbers come in later this week, as the show has been growing by around 50 percent in that metric this year, an increase over Season 8’s three-day rise.
The series remains cable’s No. 1 show and the No. 2 drama across all of television, behind only “This Is Us.”